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10 Best Things to Do in Argentinian Patagonia

Argentinian Patagonia
Perito Moreno Glacier

The Argentinian side of Patagonia is full of memorable experiences ranging from visiting an island inhabited by penguins to trekking on one of the world’s largest glaciers. The remote region in southern Argentina is also a hiker’s paradise and offers a variety of landscapes. I recommend spending 10 days here at the bare minimum, but you could easily spend 3 weeks in this remarkable region.

There are a couple of key pieces of advice for visiting the Argentinian side of Patagonia. First, book your accommodation well in advance. It’s one of the most popular destinations in South America, and the small Patagonian towns don’t have the hotel capacities that big cities do.

Secondly, be mindful of the long distances and build travel days into your itinerary. There are flights between the cities in Patagonia, but there aren’t direct flights every day. If you’re traveling by bus, the rides can be as long as 29 hours!!!

Here are the 10 best things to do in Argentinian Patagonia!

1. Walk With Penguins on Isla Martillo

Spending an hour on an island inhabited by 3,000 penguins was simply incredible. I was laughing almost the whole time just watching the little guys waddle around. Apart from marveling over how adorable penguins are, you’ll learn a lot about the life of a penguin. This experience alone was worth the trip to Ushuaia.

Isla Martillo
Isla Martillo

Related: What to Book in Advance Before Visiting Argentina

2. Visit Perito Moreno Glacier

There are two ways to visit this spectacular glacier that’s the size of Buenos Aires. One way is to book a mini-trekking tour with Hielo y Aventura. You’ll walk on the glacier for 1.5 hours, go on a boat ride across the lake beside the glacier, and spend two hours at the viewpoints.

You need to book it a few weeks in advance and pay by card, so you can’t take advantage of the blue dollar. The cheaper way to visit is by a tour that gives you 4 hours to take in the glacier from the walkways, plus the option to do the boat ride. I visited both ways, and I have to say the highlight of the glacier was watching the huge pieces of ice fall into the lake. It sounds silly, but it’s a huge crowd-pleaser. 

El Calafate is a one-trick pony, but it’s 100% worth the visit to see this incredible glacier.

Argentinian Patagonia

3. Hike in Tierra Del Fuego National Park

This is the best hiking spot in Ushuaia and my favorite in Argentina. There are all types of trails varying from 30 minutes to 6 hours long. The hike to Cerro Guanaco is difficult, but it’s a must. The 360° views from the top make the near 1,000-meter ascent well worth it. On one side, you have views of the Beagle Channel and the other has turquoise lakes with snow-capped mountains in the background.

Another nice hike is Sendero Costa which hugs the shores of the Beagle Channel. This one is flat and takes 2-2.5 hours one way. Ushuaia isn’t the most talked about place, but the scenery, hiking, and the penguins made it my favorite place in Patagonia.

Tierra del Fuego National Park
Cerro Guanaco

4. Watch the Sunrise at Mount Fitz Roy

The most famous hike in Patagonia is best experienced by arriving to the viewpoint at sunrise. On a clear morning, the sun reflects an orange/red shade onto the mountain, and it’s absolutely stunning. To find out which mornings will have clear skies, ask your hostel staff or the tourist information office in El Chalten. It’s best to arrive 30 minutes before sunrise to see the colors light up the sky above the lake opposite Fitz Roy. 

A majority of the 3-4 hour hike known as “Laguna de Los Tres” is flat except for the last 1.5 km, which gets a lot of chatter for being so challenging. But, I think it’s a bit exaggerated. The ascent is 400 meters, but it’s not so steep that you are stopping every 5 minutes for rest. 

Related: The Best 1 Month Argentina Itinerary

5. Take in the Views of Nahuel Huapi Lake

Bariloche hugs the shoreline of the pristine Nahuel Huapi Lake, and there are plenty of spectacular viewpoints around town. A few of them are quite touristic and have cafes and cables cars on top. Others take a bit more effort to reach, but they provide the rewarding feeling of being out in nature.

Cerro Llao Llao is the best of the best, and I had my first wow this is Patagonia moment here. Other viewpoints that are worth a visit include Cerro Campanario and Cerro Otto.

Argentinian Patagonia
Cerro Llao Llao

6. Paso de los Nubes Hike

This scenic and rather easy two-day hike in Nahuel Huapi National Park is the best in Bariloche. Refugio Rocca, where you spend the night, couldn’t be in a more perfect place. It’s surrounded by waterfalls, a snow-capped peak, and beautiful views of Lake Frías. You arrive at the park via a 3-hour combi ride and return to Bariloche on a scenic boat ride across Nahuel Huapi Lake. 

There is the option to add another day to hike across a glacier from Otto Meiling Refugio to Rocca, but you’ll need to hire a mountain guide.  The logistics are a bit complicated because the combi, refugio, and boat are all operated by different companies.

Refugio Rocca
Paso de los Nubes

7. Get Off the Grid in El Chalten

The trekking capital of Argentina is the ultimate budget destination, and it’s the base for the famous Mount Fitz Roy hike. The town has no cell service, poor wifi, and plenty of bars serving $2 pints of craft beer. Unsurprisingly, this is the perfect storm for a wonderful atmosphere in the simple Patagonian town.

There are plenty of day hikes that start from town or you can opt for multi-day treks, and stay at one of the many free campsites. El Chalten is a fan favorite, and nearly everyone I met said they wish they had spent more time there.

El Chalten features on the best small towns in South America. Check out the rest of the list!

8. Beagle Channel Boat Tour

Ushuaia is flanked by the Fuegian Andes to the north and the Beagle Channel to the south. A relaxing afternoon on a catamaran spotting dolphins, sea lions, and possibly whales is an awesome experience. You’ll also get to appreciate the beauty of the town with the snow-capped mountains in the backdrop from here.

Related: 10 Important Things to Know Before Visiting Argentina

9. Hike to Laguna de los Témpanos

This hike in Ushuaia has some difficult parts and is quite muddy, but in the end, you reach a stunning glacier lake. I recommend waiting for a sunny day because the clouds hover above the lake, and you won’t get to appreciate it as much on a cloudy day.

Part of the trail is a very scenic walk through the valley, but you also have to walk through lots of mud and will face a steep climb at the end. Proper hiking boots are best for this one. The hike takes about 4 hours if you take a taxi to the trailhead and 6-7 hours if you walk from town. 

10. Enjoy Bariloche’s Gastronomy

The restaurants in Argentinian Patagonia left a lot to be desired, but the resort town of Bariloche is the exception. It boasts some of the best restaurants in Argentina and Rapa Nui, Argentina’s most famous chocolate shop. Although Argentina is a wine country, Bariloche has a booming craft beer scene and there are plenty of fantastic brewpubs.

Bariloche gets very crowded and if you want to eat at a popular restaurant, I recommend getting there right when it opens.

That wraps up the 10 best things to do in Argentinian Patagonia! For more blogs about traveling in Argentina, click here!

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